When New York marketing executive Samantha Collins finds herself unemployed, she moves out of her pricey Manhattan apartment to sleepy Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. She plans on running the bed-and-breakfast she had bought as an investment in Lancaster County. However, when the manager she lets go is later found murdered on the property, Samantha's troubles take a serious turn.
A handsome local wishes to befriend her, but can she trust him? And when her ex-boyfriend shows up, wanting to reconcile, can she cope with him in the middle of this crisis? Samantha must learn to depend on the Savior she has recently taken into her heart. And she'll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove threaten her livelihood, her safety, and ultimately her life.
First I must start off by saying that even though this book is set in Amish country, it is NOT an Amish book. There are some Amish characters but this is not a book about the Amish nor does it even really focus on any type of Amish culture at all. Therefore this book should not really be classified as an Amish fiction book. That being said, this book features all the aspects I do enjoy about Amish country without it being an actual Amish book.
The story deals with Samantha, a marketing executive who suddenly finds herself removed from her job due to her being investigated by the US Attorney General's office. The problem is that she has no idea what she has done and no one will tell her anything. While she's left pondering this, she gets a strange phone call from an ex-boyfriend that leaves her unsettled. She then drives up to the bed and breakfast in Amish country that she owns and finds him dead on the property. This leads into more strange revolutions being revealed about Samantha's property and her own family history.
I love stories that deal with bed and breakfasts places but this book doesn't really focus on the inn keeping side of the story. Instead the business side of the operation is shown in a how NOT to run the place type of scenario. The story shows that you really can't trust everyone or at the very least, keep in contact with people who are running your property. You never know when someone could be using your name to do their dirty business especially when it's someone you've put your trust in. Samantha got a total shocker when she finds out that the men she trusted were just using her but immediately sets out to right the wrongs they have caused.
The entire situation dealing with Samantha's grandfather was totally engrossing. I would have loved to have read an entire series just dealing with what he went through in his life. It's not often you read about Amish people joining the military and going into combat, much less traveling into Europe and marrying a Jew. Seriously his entire life and that of his wives and sons was so interesting that I wanted more of that part of the story than the actual mystery. I loved reading about the garden and all the poetry and mythology that is showcased there. It brought a lyrical and haunting mood to the story that complimented the murders and suspense that was going on as well.
While I really enjoyed this book, I felt that the second half of the book wasn't as interesting as the first half. This sounds weird because the second half is where everything gets explained and resolved. However I thought the build-up to the story and the not knowing aspect of it was written a lot better. Once things start being revealed, while they were very exciting, I just didn't feel as intrigued in the story as I had been earlier.
Overall, this book was a really good mystery and suspense novel. It had great build up and lots of suspense about what was really going on at the bed and breakfast. Clark's mysteries are always well written and enjoyable to read. If you're in the mood for a good mystery, with a touch of history, this is the perfect read for a fall afternoon.
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark is published by Harvest House (2010)
This ARC was provided by Christian Review of Books